Two separate complaints have been filed over the death of a tea worker at Sukna near Siliguri. The family of the deceased alleged that he was shot dead by a patrolling team of the forest department when he was looking for his cattle, the department, in a separate complaint, said the forest guards were attacked by around 15 unidentified miscreants who were felling trees illegally in the forests when the team opened fire in self defence.

Police said they have started investigations based on both the complaints.

There was an uproar over the incident yesterday as locals and family members laid siege to the forest range office at Sukna for several hours, demanding stern action against the forest guards responsible for the death of Ajit Sauriya of a place called Junglikotha.

The 28-year-old was a worker of the MohorgongGulma tea plantation, and family members said that he had gone out in search of his cattle in the evening on 5 September. They later found him lying on the ground at the Kalabari section of the tea garden with multiple ‘pellet’ injuries on his body, family members said.

The wife of the deceased, Sabita Sauriya, has lodged the complaint at the Pradhannagar police station, accusing the forest guards of firing at him, leading to his death.

“We have received a complaint from the family members and registered a case,” said the Deputy Commissioner of the Siliguri Metropolitan Police, Zone-II, West, Kunwar Bhushan Singh. Police have registered a case under Section 302 (punishment for murder) of the Indian Penal Code, it is learnt. On the other hand, the beat officer of the Mahanadi beat under the Sukna Range registered a complaint at the Sukna Investigation Centre last night.

Darjeeling Wildlife Divisional Forest Officer Jiju Jaesper said the forest department had a police complaint and that departmental inquiry was underway. Sources said a magistrate-level inquiry will also be conducted.

The police complaint said that during routine patrolling in the Mohorgong block under the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, the forest guards spotted around 15 unidentified miscreants felling tree illegally at around 7.30 pm on 5 September. The guards asked them to reveal their identities and surrender, but they attacked the forest personnel with stones and brandished sharp weapons, it said.

According to the complaint, some of the miscreants jumped towards them and threatened to kill them. Without finding any alternative to save the lives, a forest guard opened fire and they fled, the forest department complaint said.